While at Northwest School of Animal Massage on Vashon Island Seattle, our group was fortunate to spend an afternoon at Vashon Island Pet Protectors (VIPP) practicing massage on the rescue cats.
I went into one of the rooms and there were 4 cats. The volunteer co-ordinator told us they were more feral and for the most part were not comfortable allowing people to touch them.
We were free to work on any of the cats in the shelter, but I chose to remain in that room. I have always been drawn to the animals who find it hard to trust.
When I tried to approach any of the cats, they spat, hissed and ran away. One of them went to lie in a bed situated in some shelves. I sat down near her, but not too close. She hissed and spat. I found out her name is Silver Girl and she was the most fearful of the lot, only allowing very brief handling by certain people.
I saw a container with some soft toys nearby, grabbed the longest one I could find, inched closer and used the toy to stroke the outside of her bed. She hissed, but didn’t move. Over a period of time (I don’t know how long – I know I had cramp in every part of my arm) I brought the toy closer and closer until it touched her. She closed her eyes and let me rub her with the toy.
Slowly I started using my fingers as well as the toy and then let the toy just lie on her and used just my hand. She slept peacefully. The co-ordinator took some photos as she said she had never seen Silver Girl allow anyone to do that. Interestingly, two of the other cats settled in behind her and fell asleep as well, while the fourth cat walked slowly to and fro next to me.
At one stage a big ginger cat tried to come and sit next to Silver Girl and she hissed and ran away. I moved slightly away from where I had been sitting, and she returned and almost immediately, settled down and allowed me to continue, first touching her for a few minutes with the toy and then again with my hand. Another magical time. Always so humbled when an animal who is fearful starts to trust me.